Unity Church-Unitarian Sunday Services Podcast

With the joy of birth and hope that the Christmas season offers us, there is another side. Holy Innocents Day, an ancient Feast Day, recalls the story of the slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem as described in the Gospel of Matthew. How can this apparent evil be part of the Christmas story? How do we face the fact that we live, and many around us suffer and die, daily? Come explore how we may navigate a world full of suffering, violence, and despair.

The long midwinter nights seem almost out of time. We rush around in hope of pleasing those we love the best while the world around us slows down to starlit stillness. A quality of spiritual surrender is forcing ourselves to slow down.

Direct download: A_Guest_Thats_No_Longer_A_Guest_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_December_23_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:12am CDT


The title of this service comes from the poetry of Sufi poet, Rumi. But folk wisdom posits that guests, like caught fish are welcome for about three days.

All creation sings the secret told to Mary by an Angel. Soon God will be born again through you. Soon love will come to you in human form.

Direct download: Love_the_Guest_December_2_2007_Rob_Eller-Isaacs.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:33am CDT

In a quest for efficiency, order and even survival, we compartmentalize our lives, separating work from family, from church, from leisure. We know that some boundaries are necessary, but when do we go too far? What is the spiritual cost to such dis-integration?

The story of the first Thanksgiving may well be mostly myth. We know how quickly gratitude gave way to conquest. But seeds of possibility and hope were planted with the corn when spring finally arrived after that terrible first winter. For years now we’ve been planting seeds of hope in Transylvania. We’ve exchanged visits, struggled for mutual respect and gained far more than we could ever have imagined as genuine, lasting friendships have taken root.

We welcome Vivek Pandit, freedom fighter, community organizer and the visionary founder of Vidhayak Sansad, an organization at work freeing slaves in India. Vivek, who is in Saint Paul to explore partnership possibilities with Unity Church, asks us to contemplate the following question. How can liberal religion help newly liberated people to achieve inner freedom? Breaking physical chains is easy when compared to confronting the oppression of self-doubt.

To miniaturize another human being is a violent act. When we make assumptions about others on the basis of some singular aspect of their identity we diminish and marginalize them. Rob and Worship Associate Mary Baremore will wrestle with this all-too-human tendency.

Direct download: Identity_and_Violence_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_November_4_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:25am CDT

College education, money, sound body and mind, heterosexual, male, physically attractive, white skin, English speaking, socially skilled…do these characteristics separate us from beloved community and contribute to our collective suffering or bring us together in a spirit of love that is healing and liberating? Worship and reflect on how sins of privilege can be transformed and blaze a path toward freedom and justice for all.

Direct download: Sins_of_Privilege_Jacqueline_Duhart_October_28_2007_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:30pm CDT

Kabir says, Go over and over your beads, paint designs on your forehead, wear your hair matted, long and ostentatious. When deep inside you there is a loaded gun, how can you have God?" We live at the intersection of spiritual development and right action in the world. Urgency is understandable but so often its also an indication that we’re hiding behind the troubles of the world as a way to avoid confronting our own troubles. We run from church to church or from crisis to crisis hoping against hope to find an all-consuming cause. Such behavior can perpetuate the very injustice its intended to combat. Rob and Worship Associate, Craig Allen will begin our series on "Identity and Violence."

Direct download: Shrink_Wrap_and_Other_Telling_Terms.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:20pm CDT

Evil prospers and wrongdoing asserts itself; loved ones disappoint us and fall short. Even our own dreams die and our courage often fails us. In the face of this often cruel reality, how dare we lay claim to hope? Rev. McNatt invites us, and our faith, to endure. This Celebration Sunday join us as we renew our financial commitments to our church community.

Direct download: How_Does_Faith_Endure.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:06pm CDT

As part of our series on faith, Janne and Worship Associate Karen Palmen will examine where we look for validation of our faith. Do we look inward for our own sense of truth or do we look to outside sources? Or is it ever that clearly delineated? Emerson’s essay on self reliance will be a primary source for this service.

Direct download: Source_of_Faith.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:52pm CDT

What does faithful living look like? What does faithful living feel like? It must have to do with living aligned to our values. What questions should we be asking ourselves? How can we most usefully serve one another in living faith-filled lives? Rob, Janne and worship associate, Estelle Brouwer will each offer reflections on these essential questions.

Direct download: Living_Faithfully.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:39pm CDT

What is the role of faith in a noncreedal religion that is so attractive to skeptics? In what ways is faith different than belief? Janne and worship associate Don Brunnquell will examine the role of faith in today’s world.

Direct download: What_is_Faith_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_September_23_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:29am CDT

In Jewish tradition the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called "the Days of Awe." That awe is inspired by the sure knowledge that you and I can move beyond our brokenness, beyond our dissolution and begin again. Each year we celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days in a service, which culminates with a "Litany for Atonement." Rob Eller-Isaacs will offer a sermon on faith. Jean Olson will serve as worship associate.

Direct download: Faith_Above_All_Fear.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:15pm CDT


Direct download: Merging_of_the_Waters_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_September_9_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:37pm CDT

First lines explores the importance of beginnings and what it means to have a beginner’s mind.

Direct download: First_Lines_August_26_2007_by_Richard_Foushee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:06pm CDT

Is it possible that starting a backyard flock of three chickens could be a meaningful response to the human crisis of inequity in food production and distribution? What does producing our own food at the really local level reveal to us about the relationship between feeding our communities and nourishing our souls? And what are you supposed to do when one of your hens begins to crow? Kerri Meyer reflects on the growing trend of keeping chickens and the ‘inexpressible satisfaction’ that comes from more than just fresh eggs.

We in America are immersed in a culture of violence, and in general we don’t even notice. Our news, our entertainment, and our societal norms lead us to accept horrific violent acts as normal, acceptable, business-as-usual. As Unitarians, as people seeking to lead a religious life, should we be concerned? What response can we offer?

Direct download: Unitarians_in_a_Culture_of_Violence_Chico_Hathaway_August_12_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:01pm CDT

In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. It may also be a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith. Lyn Burton will share joys, hardships and insights from her seven-year journey of faith as a Unity Church sponsored candidate for UU parish ministry on the path to Preliminary Fellowship in the UU Minister’s Association.

Direct download: To_Be_a_Pilgrim_Lyn_Burton_August_5_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:39pm CDT

For many people, working in corporate America seems both necessary and unavoidably numbing. Is workplace spirituality really an oxymoron? Must it be so? Come for some observations about the alleged conflict between work life and personal essence based on Craig’s 15 years working for large Minnesota businesses.

Direct download: Soul_in_the_Dilbert_Zone_Craig_Allen_July_29_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:50pm CDT

In a world in which money and success are intimately tied with time and efficiency it is difficult to stop and reflect on and appreciate our actions as well as the way in which society and nature act upon us. Based on Thich Nhat Hanh’s book "Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life," we will explore simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into our busy lives in order to create a more peaceful and meaningful existence.

Direct download: Taking_Time_to_be_Silent_Jessie_Light_July_22_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:14pm CDT

Oh Say Can You See, By the Dawn’s Early Light? — Tom Esch

It is time to really put our imaginations to use. Fewer people can doubt that we are near or at a point of crisis on many levels as a planet and as a species. Is it time for all of us to begin to see new things in new ways? Where do we as a UU movement find our vision and inspiration in times of desperation?

Direct download: Oh_Say_Can_You_See_By_The_Dawns_Early_Light_July_8_2007_Tom_Esch.mp3.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:35am CDT

The Eldercare Journey - by Rev. Ann Romanczuk

Many of us in this congregation are caring for, or anticipating caring for, our aging parents. Author Mary Pipher writes of this process: "if we embark freely and willingly on this voyage of discovery, we may find joy, empathy, understanding, and intimacy. We expand our definitions of what it means to be human. We grow our own souls in the garden of time." Rev. Ann Romanczuk will explore this difficult and potentially rewarding passage.

Direct download: The_Eldercare_Journey_July_1_2007_by_Rev._Ann_Romanczuk.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:15am CDT


During the month of May, our ministers Rob and Janne Eller-Isaacs made their way along the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail that culminates at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestella. They return to Unity Church to tell us why they chose to go beyond Santiago and to end their pilgrimage at the sea.

In this 4 part sermon, Rob and Janne reflect on their sabbatical, on making a pilgrimage, and on the importance of "taking time" to truly reconnect with ourselves and our deepest callings.

Direct download: Wallking_Toward_the_Sea_June_17_2007_by_Rob_and_Janne_Eller-Isaacs.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:42pm CDT

The Joy of Ripeness Justin Schroeder

Life is full of beginnings and endings. Yet, there is that magical moment, that space someplace between the beginning and the ending, where a fullness and perfect readiness is reached. It is as if we have been preparing our whole lives for this moment, this moment that can come again and again in our lifetime. It is a moment of joy, a moment of perfect ripeness - filled with sweet nectar, ready to burst forth.

Direct download: The_Joy_of_Ripeness_by_Justin_Schroeder_June_10_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:23am CDT

The Journey We're Ready For by Teresa Schwartz

We make our paths by walking them, step by step. If our lives are a journey, are we ever truly ready? How would we know? What is the role of faith as we step into the unknown, especially as Unitarian Universalists? As we reach the close of our church year, we"ll reflect on the paths we�ve made together, and what lies ahead as we move into the ripe season of summer and the ripe season of ourselves.

Direct download: The_Journey_Were_Ready_For_June_3_2007_by_Teresa_Schwartz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:59pm CDT

Service and Sacrifice: The Complexities of Memorial Day by Justin Schroeder

In part, Memorial Day is a day of remembering all who have given their lives in service to our country. In this remembering, we are drawn into larger questions of meaning and purpose in our own lives: What am I willing to sacrifice? Who or what am I most authentically serving?

Direct download: Service_and_Sacrifice_by_Justin_Schroeder_May_27_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:44pm CDT

Heading into summer is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the nature of joy and pleasure. How do we find our true course in the midst of so many distractions? What is the difference between a joy we can trust and follow inward and a pleasure that is only a temporary fill for the "God-shaped Hollow."

Katie Lawson was Unity's Hallman Ministerial Intern in 2005 and 2006 and was fellowshipped with the Unitarian Universalist Association in September. She spent the summer as chaplain at Ferry Beach, a Unitarian Universalist retreat center, and currently teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies at St. Paul Academy.

Direct download: False_Idols_and_Feelin_Good_by_Katie_Lawson_May_20_2007.mp3.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:42am CDT

“You’re Going To Wear That??

— Teresa Schwartz

We were all born — and we all have mothers. Some of us are mothers and grandmothers. We’ll explore having a mom and being a mom — times funny and sad; moments poignant and irreverent. Mothers of all kinds should be remembered, if not honored. Some mothers are nurturing, some mothers are stifling, some mothers always loved us, some didn’t know how, some mothers we never met, some mothers are our best friends. Come and and honor motherhood with us.

Direct download: Are_You_Going_To_Wear_That_by_Teresa_Schwartz_May_13_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:04pm CDT

Work That is Real

by Rev. Dottie Mathews, Fox Valley UU Fellowship of Appleton, Wisc.

The title for this sermon comes from the Marge Piercy poem "To Be of Use." Explore the dynamics between finding coherence in our inner life and how we then take that coherence (or sense of meaning) out into the rest of our lives, our work, our home, and our relationships.

Dottie Mathews is the Assistant Minister at the Fox Valley UU Fellowship. In middle-life, after a successful business career, Dottie answered a call to the ministry. She graduated from United Theological Seminary in May 2006 and was ordained in Appleton six months later. Dottie's internship at Unity Church is one aspect of her learning process for which she is particularly grateful. She is delighted for this opportunity to return to greet old friends and new.

Direct download: Work_that_is_Real_by_Rev._Dottie_Matthews_May_6_2007.mp3
Category:Unity Unitarian -- posted at: 9:33am CDT

"Abundant Possibilities"

by Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, All Souls Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Marlin Lavanhar grew up Unitarian Universalist at North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois. After graduating from Tulane University, he relocated to Kyoto, Japan, where he worked and studied for two years. Leaving Japan, he and a friend took a three year, around the world odyssey on mountain bikes. The trip took him through some of the world's highest mountain ranges, across parts of the Gobi desert, Tibet, India, Pakistan, through the Middle East, across Eastern Europe and North America. It was on this trip that he felt the call to Unitarian Universalist Ministry.

His sermon explores the power of generosity and possibility - and the surprising moments that can come from spontaneous giving!

Direct download: Abundant_Possibilities_by_Rev._Marlin_Lavanhar_April_15_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:08am CDT

Easter Sunday

by Teresa Schwartz and Justin Schroeder

We honor the Easter story every year; every year we are in need of resurrection. We will celebrate doubt and belief, the commonplace and the miraculous, our fears and our hopes as we reach into new life.


Direct download: Life_Wants_to_Live_by_Teresa_Schwartz_April_8_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:19pm CDT

Fools, Foolishness, and Folly:

What Clowns, Jesters and Pranksters Have to Teach Us

by Justin Schroeder

This April Fool's Day (and Palm Sunday), come laugh and chortle as we explore the history of the holy fool - those clowns and jokesters that throughout the ages have managed to penetrate our upright defenses to tell us the things we really need to know.

Direct download: April_1_2007_Fools_Foolishness_and_Folly_by_Justin_Schroeder.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:38am CDT

The Idolatry of Symbols by Rev. Karen Gustafson

Karen was ordained by the Duluth Unitarian Universalist congregation in 1986. She is a graduate of the Starr King School for the ministry in Berkeley California. Before becoming an minister, Karen was a public school educator in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. She is married and has four just- barely-adult children. Karen is inspired by the poetry of Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov and Wendell Berry and time in the woods and near the lakes of northern Minnesota.

This sermon explores symbols and the power they can hold over us.

Direct download: March_25_2007_Idolatry_of_Symbols_by_Rev._Karen_Gustafson.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:37am CDT

Gates, Alarms, Mace, and Faith: Finding Real Security in an Insecure Age. ByJustin Schroeder

What makes us safe, really safe? Is it a home alarm system, razor wire, the truth, or a hand gun next to our bed? How secure is secure enough, and what's faith got to do with it?

Direct download: March_11_2007_Idols_of_Addiction_by_Rev_Bill_Neely.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:46pm CDT

March 4, 9:00am, 11:00am, and 4:30pm Delivered at www.unityunitarian.org.


We strive for excellence, but when does it become too much? When does our pursuit of improving our careers, our homes, families, bodies, our very selves become too much? When does our drive to be better keep us from doing anything at all? What awakens this drive is us? What feeds it? What can it offer us? As part of our Lenten series on idolatry, Sabbatical Minister Teresa Schwartz and Worship Associate Karen Palmen will explore the idolatry of perfectionism.

Direct download: Perils_of_Perfection_March_4_2007_by_Teresa_Schwartz.mp3
Category:How to Listen -- posted at: 11:46am CDT

February 25 (9:00, 11:00, 4:30)

“Possessed By Possessions? — Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer, Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, Ohio

Melissa served a Unity Church’s second Hallman Ministerial Intern. She is currently serving the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, Ohio. Melissa served as Unity’s Intern in 2003 and 2004. Melissa is married to Ellen Carvill-Ziemer. In addition to her full time parish ministry, Melissa has been focused on Conflict Resolution and is currently exploring religious themes in children’s literature. Sharon Hogenson will join Melissa as her Worship Associate.

Direct download: Possessed_By_Possessions_by_Rev._Melissa_Carvill-Ziemer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:27pm CDT

“Created Identities? — Justin Schroeder delivered at www.unityunitarian.org

Join Justin Schroeder and Worship Associate Neely Crane-Smith as they explore the fundamental questions of “identity.? Are our identities fluid or static? Who determines our identities and labels? What are the politics of identity and is it possible to ever be without an identity? Or are we forever creating the identity we show the world?

Direct download: Created_Identity_by_Justin_Schroeder_Feb_18_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:12am CDT

Neil is the author of two acclaimed books, VoiceMale, and Fatherloss. He is writer-in-residence at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky, where he lives with his wife, Rev. Kelly Flood, and their 13-year-old son, Evan. Neil is co-founder of the Unitarian Universalist Men’s Network. Justin Schroeder will join Neil as his Worship Associate.

Direct download: Imagining_Justice_by_Rev_Meg_Riley_2-4-2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:36pm CDT

Rev. Jennifer Crow, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, New York  delivered at www.unityunitarian.org

Effective leadership requires genuine concern, curious listening, humility,and bold vision - a tricky combination whether your find yourself seated in the oval office, around the board room or at the family dinner table. How can we, as leaders and as members of our country, our church, and our families, encourage one another to embrace this difficult balance? What can past leaders teach us about how to proceed — either by way of warning or by way of example? How might we offer and earn the trust required for the emergence of a humble vision in our relationships? Let us explore these tricky questions together

Direct download: A_Humble_Vision_by_Rev._Jen_Crow_1_28_07.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:09pm CDT

"Deep Democracy?

Teresa Schwartz

How do our “democratic ideals? line up with our basic lived values, in our lives, and in the world? How is our democracy failing us? Or have we failed it? In this service, Teresa Schwartz and worship associate, Dick Buggs, will look at ways to ground ourselves in a democracy that is life-giving, transformative, and reminds us that as a part of the interconnected web of life, we must work toward the common good.


Direct download: Deep_Democracy_1-21-2007_by_Teresa_Schwartz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:45pm CDT

"Beloved Community" by Justin Schroeder

Delivered at www.unityunitarian.org.


What we do we mean when we talked about "Beloved Community"? How do we recognize the "Beloved Community," and how do we know if we're there? On this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, we'll explore visions and intersections of "Beloved Community," "Mountain Top" experiences, and the "Kingdom of God."

Direct download: Beloved_Community_1-14-2007_Justin_Schroeder.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:35am CDT


"Tolling of Bells" - Rob Eller-Isaacs and Janne Eller-Isaacs

January 7, 9:00, 11:00 and 4:30 pm. Delivered at www.unityunitarian.org.

We begin each new year with a memorial service for those who have died in the previous year. Rob and Janne will each eulogize men and women whose lives have shaped the world of art or politics, literature or science.Everyone will have an opportunity to acknowledge those they’ve loved and lost. In grief and gratitude and gladness we turn to welcome the new year.


Direct download: The_Tolling_of_the_Bells_Jan_7_2007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:59am CDT

Direct download: 01-Rachels_Weeping.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:45am CDT